Posts tagged “Jesus is Enough

God’s Arm Seems Longer Somehow

Holy Week, for many of us, is a particular time of reflection. Isaiah 59 is not traditionally a Lenten, Holy Week or Easter passage. But it has, in the past few years, been the touchstone to which I return to as I contemplate the state of my own heart in light of the Cross. This post, first scratched out in the early morning light of near-Easter 2009 and run here every year since, marks the place where God said, “Here and no further,” turning me back from a dark descent in His firm but tender insistence the Covenant has no loophole, that He did not end that blackest of Fridays having spent all of Jesus’ blood and now drowning in buyer’s remorse.

I read this again this morning and while I know the fierce intensity that first pushed these words out, today that doubt does not feel so close at hand. His arm seems longer, somehow, than it has in years.

Just how long is Your arm, Father? How long is long enough for me?

The question formed as I knelt beside a queen bed in a hotel squeezed between Iowa cornfields. I rose early and lingered there before joining the growing crowd of family in the breakfast nook downstairs. I flipped through thin pages looking for Isaiah 59, wanting just one thing. I felt hungrier for the sustaining words of this one short verse than for an AmericInn breakfast no matter what the ads say. (more…)


Shortening God’s Arm

Shortening God's Arm

Shortening God's Arm

Indulge me another repost? I’m regrouping a bit. Some of these from the archives have much more to say than I do at the moment.

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Just how long is Your arm, Father? How long is long enough for me?

The question formed as I knelt beside a queen bed in a hotel squeezed between Iowa cornfields. I rose early and lingered there before joining the growing crowd of family in the breakfast nook downstairs. I flipped through thin pages looking for Isaiah 59, wanting just one thing. I felt hungrier for the sustaining words of this one short verse than for an AmericInn breakfast no matter what the ads say. (more…)


Reimagined

Reimagined

Reimagined

Her words, beautiful as they are, haunt me. Still.

Through grief that wanted to defy words, she found them. She heard them, His tender whisper rising just above mourning.

I know. I was there. I am here.

My eyes follow the letters, lined up between periods, now in my own editor.

And I freeze.

(more…)


Enough

Enough

Enough

I travel light.

It’s a point of personal pride, really.

And yes, it was before the days of hauling my laptop wherever I go, but on a two-week trip to Korea I traveled with a single carry-on bag. No checked luggage.

If I couldn’t carry it in one hand, I didn’t need it.

Preparing for a mission project in Buenos Aires several years ago, I forced my rules for packing for international travel onto a group of high school and college students. The instructions were clear enough:

Pack only what you absolutely cannot live without.

Knowing what most of them would consider absolutely essential, I asked them to go a little further.

Then take out half and leave it behind.

Now, close up your suitcase and carry it around the block.

When you catch your breath, take out half again.

What remained in their bags, after taking out, carrying weight and taking out again, was all they would truly need.

It was, to their surprise, enough. (more…)


Could Use a Little Truth Over Here

I twisted a little in the chair and felt my shoulders pull in tight. The edges were fuzzy, but the conversation was starting to come back to me in pieces as I sat at the kitchen table drafting a report into the evening hours.

I said that?

I wanted to be sure, so I texted her.

Did I really say there was a third brother?

Yes, she answered back. I think you did.

Blast.

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Fresh from ten-plus days at the edge of night with Heman, my heart felt a little achy and exposed. I probably should have taken a nap. Instead, I let my mind loose on the playground a little longer, until it hung upside down on the monkey bars of one question: Did Heman’s light ever come back on, or did his world stay dark until the end?

Earlier that morning, our adult class spent some time on the swing set of Luke 15. We looked at the brother that went all wild, exhausting the riches stashed in his pockets from his father only to be washed away in an even wilder grace that rushed him while he was still on the road to home.

And we looked at the brother who witnessed redemption and seethed, angry that grace should be so crazy and not better measured.

We thought together that much of the time, we find ourselves to be one brother, or perhaps the other.

But that afternoon, in my petulant brooding, I determined to be neither.

There was a third brother, I barely recall saying. The brother nobody talks about. The father built a shed out back and put the third brother in it because they didn’t know what else to do. That’s the brother that is me.

Here in the light of day, that’s outrageous. And even as the words appear in front of me on the screen, my stomach goes soft and my shoulders clamp tight, and shame drips down around my neck.

I’ve just rewritten words that drew life from His lungs.

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But I stop, and consider. While in adding a new chapter to His parable I may have been less nuanced than usual, I see I am a revisionist through and through.

I footnote and annotate and asterisk where His Word clearly stands on its own. Yet I feel compelled to qualify His truth and articulate the provisions that might just not apply to me.

Why must I think I stand outside the reach of His unrelenting mercy?

Where did He ever say such a thing?

And when will I cease to deny the power of the Gospel with my slimy, proud disbelief?

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I stood some feet away and looked at the Word, still open to 88, to Heman’s painful cries of anguish from a dark place. And I asked Him, quiet, not to ask me to go there again. Please. Let’s move on.

He smiled, it seemed, and so I took to my place on the floor and turned pages. In mere moments I rejoiced over the Rock of my salvation right there in 95, just like it had been waiting for me to arrive.

And mere moments later, I doubled over as though sucker punched.

I wasn’t. God doesn’t do that.

But it felt so all the same.

This song of rejoicing, it ended badly. It was Heman and his bestie the darkness all over again.

They shall never enter My rest.” (95:11)

Was this the answer to my jungle gym question? When I wonder if Heman died in the dark (and by implication how that might have anything to do with me), this is what I hear in response?

“They shall never enter My rest.”

Quick, read backward. Read backward. Read backward. Hurry!

I read backward a lot. What did He say before that?

What He said was do not harden your hearts.” (95:8)

I slumped back and let out a long draw of air.

You know what is true. But you harden your heart against it. So yes, it will be tiresome and dark and you will not rest. Not until your heart is soft and you take the truth as it is written and stop writing your own.

You will not rest until your heart is soft enough to believe that when He said it is finished then it really is. And when He says He is enough then He really is.

And so, yes, I know what is true. I know it is finished and He is enough and grace doesn’t run out and mercy reaches me.

I know.

Oh, how I know.

And oh, how I forget.

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So how would you like to help me out today? Because I could sure use a little truth over here.

Tell me some truth.

The rules are simple:

  1. It has to be the truth. That is, God has to have said it in His pages.
  2. It has to be the truth. That is, I don’t need an ego boost; I need Jesus.
  3. It has to be the truth. That is, unqualified, no-asterisk, straight-up truth.

Here’s your chance to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Ready to preach me some Gospel? Go!

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Photo: sad swing by Jonathan Malm via Stock.xchng